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Arthur BUTTERWORTH (b. 1923)
Piano Trio No.1 Op.73 (1983) [21:06]
Viola Sonata Op.78 (1986)a [18:26]
Piano Trio No.2 Op.121 (2004) [16:13]
The Terroni Piano Trio (John Trusler, violin; Fiona Murphy, cello; Raphael Terroni, piano); Morgan Goff (viola)a
rec. All Saints Church, Durham Road, East Finchley, June 2005
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7164 [56:06]

Arthur Butterworth may be best-known as a symphonist but chamber music was never really absent from his large and varied output. He composed chamber works for many different instrumental combinations, including a number of sonatas. The two piano trios recorded here and a fairly recent String Quartet Op.100 are still in manuscript.

Butterworth’s Piano Trios were composed some twenty years apart, and are quite different in character, although the music obviously comes from the same pen. The Piano Trio No.1 is in three weighty movements, of which the first is an intricately worked-out sonata form with a glorious theme bringing Ireland and Moeran to mind. The composer also admits to some affinity with the modal inflections and spirit of Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony. The often tense music of the first movement is appeased in the beautifully dreamy slow movement nocturne. The Trio concludes with a lively Finale that still manages to end with a dreamy recollection the first movement. This is strongly expressive chamber music on a symphonic scale.

Composed a few years later, probably in about 1986, the Viola Sonata is also in three movements, of which the first is the most developed and is shot through with dark-hued eloquence. A short, lively Scherzo of great verve with a more lyrical central section is followed by another long slow movement. The Sonata is mostly lyrical, exploring the autumnal sound-world of the viola to great expressive effect.

The quite recent Piano Trio No.2, though not unlike its predecessor, somewhat shorter, more compact and in a slightly lighter vein; an enjoyable piece. It opens with a breezy Allegro appassionato followed by an often impassioned slow movement leading straight into the robust and lively Finale.

Butterworth clearly believes in what Stanford used to refer to as ‘The Eternal Verities’, but he always manages to find a personal expression within the boundaries of tradition. His vast output demonstrates that tradition is no straitjacket to an imaginative and inventive composer who has things to say and who knows how best to say them. These three fine pieces are no exception, especially when played as here, with conviction and commitment.

Recordings of the symphonies - especially of the magnificent Fifth - of the Viola and Cello Concertos, the String Quartet and the Symphonic Variations Op.95 for piano quintet, to mention but a few, are now long overdue. I hope that this most desirable release will prompt others to consider Arthur Butterworth’s music for future release.

Hubert Culot

see Arthur Butterworth website

Arthur Butterworth writes...



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